BULL’S EYE: The human face of Eskom’s salvation
FREE TO READ | Entire little towns surround collieries and power plants, just dying for signs that investment will return
Intimate is too strong a word for my family’s relationship with coal and power, but it’s close. The Welsh wing immigrated to the Vryheid area, spawned, and stayed on in the collieries: the grandees at Coronation, my dad at Hlobane, Grootvlei and Tweefontein. The other side gave birth to engineers and associated fitters and boilermakers and whatnot to do with power stations everywhere from Rosherville to Klip to the badlands of what we now know as Mpumalanga.
Family lore has it that one of the grandpas got himself involved in the 1922 miners’ strike, then to avoid blacklisting afterwards Anglicised his name from Francois Adriaan to Frank Arthur. The story needs some work, I reckon, but the fact remains the old boy started this whole power trip. He got a job at the Victoria Falls Power Company (best known as the VFP) that was later taken over by the Electricity Supply Commission (ESC), which eventually became Eskom.
Coal and electricity meant we had blood all across the platteland. My sister had followed suit by marrying an engineer who worked at Kelvin Power Station, so the trek to visit them involved plenty of local colour, much of it a smudged, filthy ochre. ..